A unique approach to polar research through new global network

Tuesday 19 Mar 24


Colin Stedmon
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 34 10

The EU-funded POLARIN project in which DTU Aqua takes part will deliver cross-border, virtual and remote access to 64 polar research infrastructures and promote interdisciplinary research that addresses the scientific challenges in both polar regions.

POLARIN, Polar Research Infrastructure Network, is a new global network for polar research infrastructures, officially launched on 1 March 2024, which for the first time, will be offering access to research infrastructures in the Arctic and Antarctic alike.

DTU Aqua is one of the 50 partner institutions that compose POLARIN promoting interdisciplinary research that addresses the scientific challenges in both polar regions over the next five years.

According to the project leader Dr Nicole Biebow at Alfred Wegener Institute, POLARIN is the only project of its kind encomprising research from marine and terrestrial research to the atmosphere.

“POLARIN is a network of international polar research infrastructures which is in particular focused on sharing access across countries within and outside the EU,” says Colin Stedmon, professor at DTU Aqua and in charge of POLARIN in Denmark.

The POLARIN project is fully financed by EU. Over the next five years, the European Union will provide 14.6 million euros in funding.

Cross-border, virtual and remote access to 64 polar research infrastructures

Playing a pivotal role in the Earth system, the polar regions are of critical importance for our climate. The polar regions are considered to be early-warning systems for climate change and also focus areas for human expansion and the exploration of new resources.

The two regions are characterised by progressive ice loss and rapidly changing oceans and landmasses.

“Polar regions are currently undergoing considerable change. There is mouting evidence that we are moving to new regime where statstics on past conditions no longer hold true, and poorly understood processes become more and more apparent. There is much work that needs to be done in a coordinated effort,” says Colin Stedmon.

In order to understand in depth and predict the complex processes at work in these regions, and in order to provide data-based information, the polar research community needs access to world-class research infrastructures that can function in the polar regions.

This is the unique approach to polar research that POLARIN is set out to deliver by providing cross-border, virtual and remote access to 64 polar research infrastructures including their Arctic and Antarctic research stations, research vessels and icebreakers at both poles, observatories on land and at sea, data infrastructures, and repositories for ice and sediment cores.

The research vessel DANA

The consequences of the polar transformation can be felt across the planet and affect human beings in various ways. Accordingly, political decisionmakers need data-based recommendations on the future use of the polar regions.

The role of DTU Aqua in POLARIN is to offer international scientists access to the Danish research vessel RV DANA which is regularly in the polar Nordic seas and can be chartered for research expeditions.

The huge challenge in polar research is that there are few research infrastructures that can operate in these remote, extreme environs. Providing access to and integrating research infrastructures is the key to strengthening European research.

In addition, doing so will improve observational and modelling capacities in terms of overcoming the great challenges that these regions – and, due to global interactions, the entire Earth system – are facing. 

Photo: DTU Aqua / The research vessel Dana in Greenland